Why Your Document Management May Need a Tune-Up
May 24, 2022
When it comes to document management, there are all sorts of questions — how to improve it, what software solutions are out there, how to choose one and how to implement it.
But there are also the whys. Why is document management important to have? If you already have such a system in place, why would you need to improve on your current system and practices?
The answers to those questions come down to what kinds of business challenges or project risks you may have experienced. Or it can be the capabilities still missing in your system that you know your projects can benefit from, especially if you’ve been using your system for a while. If any of the following scenarios apply to you, it may be time for a document management tune-up.
Not being able to access or find the right documents
Have you ever measured the value of the time wasted by looking for a single document? Whether it’s 10 minutes or an hour, it may not sound like much in the grand scheme of a project. But when you add up all the documents chased down by dozens or hundreds of team members across the entire course of a project, it becomes one of those costly, “time-is-money” scenarios that plays out far too often in construction projects.
Document management systems are meant, in part, to corral paperwork. If you’ve had your system for a while, it may not have the cloud technology that today’s systems use, relying instead on housing documents on a server or individual computers. If that’s your current system, you’ve already experienced how it often puts critical files out of reach for those who need them most.
Why upgrade to a cloud-based system? It extends the ability of everyone on the project team — from subcontractors in the field to the back office to anyone working remotely — to access what they need, when they need it and where they need it. Without having to sift through files on a computer (or hoofing it to a physical filing cabinet in a job trailer), time is saved because everything is centralized in a cloud-based virtual storage cabinet.
Experiencing document security issues
Access to construction documents is a must to keep the project workflows going smoothly. But it’s not such a good thing if some project team members are viewing documents they shouldn’t, such as financials or personnel records, or modifying ones without authorization that can inadvertently impact project scheduling or costs. And then there are those with malicious intent who want to gain access to sensitive information they should never have.
This has become a bigger concern as document access is increasingly exposed with more people working remotely and the high number of temporary subcontractors who have to access documents at some point. Without a system that has cyber security capabilities in place to monitor access and handle the latest tactics to hack into and corrupt files, your business and project information is in jeopardy of being compromised — and that kind of compromise is not going to be easy to overcome from a project logistics standpoint or in your relationship and reputation with the project owner.
Document management systems today have safeguard measures in place that give you more control over access — such as dual authentication and role-based permissions. With data and documents being among a construction project’s most valuable assets, having a system with cyber security controls is a top risk management strategy every contractor should have in place.
Challenging collaboration on the latest, most accurate files
This may be playing out for you in several ways. Inefficiencies in sharing documents with the project team may be hampering site crew productivity or jobsite decisions. Misguided decisions are being made because no one has the most recent relevant information on which to base them. With so many documents being updated and edited throughout a project, questionable version control is fueling uncertainty whether the documents the site crews in the field are referencing this afternoon are the ones that include the latest edits you made this morning.
If you want to increase the level of collaboration and efficiency that capital projects depend on, it comes back to the capabilities of cloud-based document management systems — updates and changes to documents being reflected immediately, real-time access, and one place as the reliable single source of truth for all project files.
Difficulty addressing internal or external audits
Ever been on the receiving end of a compliance audit for which you had a hard time providing proof? Or have you tried tracing back to where errors were made in your documentation and found it difficult? One culprit could be a lack of version control.
Tracking who accessed what documents and when — and what, if any, changes they made or actions they took — may not have been an ingrained part of your business process in the beginning. Or what is now considered a legacy document management system may not have received adequate version control and tracking capability.
Fortunately, today’s more advanced document management options do this automatically. Not only does this smooth your ability to prepare for an external compliance audit, but it helps improve your own internal auditing process in finding ways to control document access and modification (which can affect versioning), shore up file security measures, head off legal disputes, and reduce the potential for rework.
Difficulty linking your files together
You’d be hard-pressed to find a construction document that isn’t tied to another somehow. For example, an RFI doesn’t materialize out of the blue. And neither do edits made to designs mid-project. They have to be initiated somehow, and it can trigger a series of questions. How and why did a particular change order, RFI or document edit originate? Where’s the approval for a particular contract and who issued it? Are there any photos and videos that go along with inspection checklists?
The ability to link files to each other tells the story of the workflow. Document management software today can connect documents so that it provides context for the why, how, when and who that goes into creating and evolving each document and makes it easier to search for related files. And that can even help provide support in an audit situation.
Is it time for a document management system tune up or an overhaul?
Whether you decide to make upgrades to your existing system or completely overhaul it, be sure to fully research your options because no two document management systems are alike. And what one construction company needs may be different than another.
An effective system designed for the construction industry, like InEight document management, can be a powerful tool to help you gain control over the files and supporting information that are critical to keeping capital projects running smoothly. If you’re in the process of adopting a new solution or upgrading your existing capabilities, let us show you how it can help you by scheduling a demo.